Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, etc. etc. etc., blah blah blah.
I’ve had a bone to pick with Daenerys since she began her conquest of Slaver’s Bay a couple of seasons (or a few books) ago. At first, her story was pretty interesting – a Khaleesi traveling the Red Waste raising her dragons and trying to find a way to survive. I was intrigued because I didn’t know quite what was going to happen. She was making loyal friends, but also scores of enemies anywhere she went, and it felt like huge things were on her horizon. I expected that she would be laying waste in Westeros, or have died a grizzly death by now.
But that didn’t happen.
Instead, she went to Slaver’s Bay, where she set up shop and spent the duration of a couple of books proving she’s not that great at being a queen. The story stalled and she became very tedious and annoying, which is especially true of the books, where she often ‘plays dumb’ as a political maneuver.
I guess it’s not really fair to single out Daenerys, since the same can be said for Bran or Tyrion’s storylines around the same time – one was being carried through the woods and the other was being carried toward Meereen. Not that there weren’t interesting bits in those particular plots, but if I wanted to read Lord of the Rings, then I will read Lord of the Rings.
Hopefully, the show will address these concerns by doing some substantial streamlining with her particular plot. If the first few episodes are any indication, it seems like they will, and this post will be kind of pointless.
So here’s Daenerys, freeing slaves and trying her best to keep order. She’s made herself queen, left the city without a source of revenue, evicted someone from their massive pyramid, and seems shocked and upset when people aren’t enthusiastic about her decision to start ruling them. We often see her making brash decisions that completely discount the advice of her council. She seems arrogant, like her alleged right to rule has made her smarter than those around her and instinctively capable of the task. Really, she’s not tremendously different than Joffrey, except she is trying to be benevolent instead of viscous.
Daenerys has heard tales of her family since birth. These stories are all she had, and like any good legend, they focused on the strong points of her family. They ruled Westeros for centuries. They rode dragons and took what was theirs with the fire and blood they like to talk about so much. Once her dragons hatched, these legends became very real to her, and she was a Targaryen conqueror, like Aegon before her.
Except that she wasn’t.
I’ll give her credit – she’s doing well, especially in light of the fact that she’s been learning as she goes along. I think it’s a pretty accurate depiction of what might happen if you plopped an adolescent on a throne and told them to give it a shot.
That doesn’t make her any less annoying, though.
The most irritating part about her character is the arrogance – hubris in it’s purest form. She has decided that she is a queen, which somehow has magically bestowed that skill set upon her. I get it, she’s a queen and needs to act decisively, even if that means making wildly contradictory choices that are based on emotion instead of logic. Daenerys seems to have forgotten that stealing an army, buying another, and sacking a couple of cities does not make a person a ruler. It makes her a leader, or conqueror, or Khaleesi, but not necessarily a good queen. Even Robert Boratheon knew that.
Other Westerosi that could offer her some lessons on the perils of hubris include Robb Stark, Theon Greyjoy, and Oberyn Martell. But they can’t, because they are dead and/or being slowly broken and tortured. Pride coming before falls and all that.
Her expectation is for everyone to blindly follow her because she feels right and justified in her actions. She would do well to listen to Ser Barristan more often than she does. His advice seems to be the only that is in her interest and will keep her head connected to the rest of her. Not only that, but he spent decades in the throne room and council chambers, so he knows what he is talking about more than any of the other folks she looks to for help.
I understand the narrative and its intended purpose – she’s lost control of her dragons, which is representative of her loss of control in the cities she conquered. Regaining control of the dragons will symbolize her growth as a ruler and we will watch her regain control of the city and actually develop the skills to rule…all in hopes of seeing her fly into Westeors atop Drogan to reclaim the Iron Throne.
That is, of course, if her hubris doesn’t get her killed first.